**Photos courtesy of Sara Gibson, Bibb County Extension Office 

The third annual Groundwater Festival in Bibb County was a resounding success, drawing 4th graders from all corners of the county to Brierfield Historical Ironworks State Park on May 1, 2024. This vibrant event, organized jointly by the Bibb County Conservation District and the Bibb County Extension Office, aimed to instill a profound understanding of groundwater conservation and pollution among the county’s youth. 

The participating students from Randolph Elementary, Woodstock Elementary, West Blocton Elementary, and Brent Elementary were treated to an immersive educational experience designed to illuminate the complexities of water pollution and the vital importance of safeguarding our water resources. 

Upon arrival, the students were divided into groups and made their way through five engaging stations, each offering unique insights into the challenges and solutions surrounding water conservation. 

At the Water Cycle Bracelet station, young learners crafted bracelets adorned with colorful beads symbolizing different stages of the water cycle. Through this hands-on activity, they not only learned about precipitation, infiltration, evaporation, and condensation but also grasped the indispensable role of water in sustaining all life forms. 

The Incredible Edible Aquifer station provided a tasty yet instructive demonstration of how pollutants infiltrate groundwater. By layering gummy bears, Sprite, ice cream, and sprinkles in a cup, students simulated the layers of an aquifer and witnessed firsthand the consequences of contamination, reinforcing the importance of responsible waste disposal. 

At Fantastic Filtration, participants delved into the diverse array of pollutants threatening our waterways, from litter to chemical runoff. They gained valuable insights into the mechanisms of water treatment and the critical role of filtration in ensuring safe drinking water for communities. 

Water Cycle Bingo offered a fun and interactive review of the day’s lessons, allowing students to test their knowledge and win prizes while reinforcing key concepts. This station also included a scarf game that led students through the beginning steps of learning how to juggle. 

The festival also featured a station where they could have an encounter with Ruby Raindrop, the festival’s beloved mascot, while the kids listened to a whimsical tale of the water cycle brought to life. This playful narrative, coupled with a lively game of dot-to-dot, brought laughter and learning together in engaging ways. 

After a morning of learning and a picnic style lunch, the kids and educators were able to enjoy a magic show that further educated kids on the importance of water from Steve and Amy Craig, The Fishin’ Magicians, a duo out of Missouri who traveled to Bibb County for the Groundwater Festival. Including a humorous mix of magic and mystery (their specialty), students were able to participate in some of the magic tricks as well. Some of their tricks included educating about the 3 stages of water (solid, liquid, gas); precipitation; how humans are mostly liquid over solid; how water holds our ecosystems together; how freshwater makes up only 3% of the total water on earth; and how water is used to make things like glass, paper, etc. Through their captivating performance, students gained a deeper appreciation for the myriad ways water shapes our world, from sustaining ecosystems to powering industry. 

The success of the Groundwater Festival owes much to the visionary leadership of Debbie Clements, Bibb County Conservation District Coordinator, and Michelle Giddens, Bibb County Extension Coordinator, whose dedication and collaboration made this transformative event possible. Alongside numerous volunteers and supporters as well as teams from both the Conservation District and Extension, this event not only educated but also inspired a generation of young environmental champions. With each bracelet crafted, each aquifer built, and each magic trick performed, the seeds of conservation were sown, ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for Bibb County and beyond.